Are wedges the most important clubs in your bag when you’re not on the green?
The closer you are to the hole, the more critical the shots become and the greater the effect is from a bad shot. So it’s important to have wedges that make you feel comfortable and confident over the ball.
While wedges may have a lot to do with feel and personal preference, there are some models and brands that just seem to perform and feel better than most.
So after getting the opportunity to try out a bunch of new clubs that are out there today, here are my choices for the best wedges…
Titliest Vokey SM7
When you talk about the best wedges, you need to start the conversation with Vokey Wedges. They have been the standard in golf for many years and i don’t think the current crop of wedges is any different.
Lofts: 46° / 48° / 50° / 52° / 54° / 56° / 58° / 60° / 62°
Head Options: 6 Different sole grinds (F, M, K, S, D, L)
Finish Options: Tour Chrome, Brushed Steel, Jet Black
Standard Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold S200
It’s difficult to pick the best features of Vokey wedges, but I think the sheer number of options is what keeps me coming back to these every time I need a new wedge. I think it is apparent that having many options is a priority of Titleist when it comes to their wedges.
Wedges need to be versatile and every player is different. It’s never one size fits all for wedges. That’s why we have many grind options.”
Vokey wedges are made with excellent quality as well. They use spin milled grooves which Titleist claims are the sharpest, cost consistent groove edges. They also use a unique texture on the face which they claim gives you more consistent groove edges, tighter quality tolerances, and maximum spin.
In my experience, the Vokey wedges are not the most backspin inducing clubs, but are in the higher range. I personally prefer this as it allows more control of the backspin on full wedge shots.
If you are in search of maximum spin check out the Callaway Mack Daddy below.
One area where I noticed a significant difference between Vokey and some of the other wedges on this list is the feel of the club. This can be a personal preference, but I prefer a softer feel in wedges. These have a great soft feel when you hit the sweet spot but still give you good feedback on off center hits.
To get more specs and find out the current price of the Titleist SM7 Wedges, click here.
Callaway Mack Daddy 4
Phil Mickelson uses these wedges so they must be doing something right.
Lofts: 46° / 48° / 50° / 52° / 54° / 56° / 58° / 60° / 64°
Head Options: 4 Different sole grinds (C, S, W, and X)
Finish Options: Satin Chrome, Matte Black
Standard Shaft: Dynamic Gold Tour Issue 115
This wedge is all about spin. At least if you read the Callaway marketing. I do think it delivers on that promise though. Of the clubs I tried, this one gave me the highest backspin numbers. Whether this is a good thing or not is up to you though. Sometimes, too much spin can cause problems rather than solve them.
Callaway attributes much of this to the micro protrusions on the face of the club that generate more spin than just grooves alone. Just looking at the club and feeling it seems like it would almost be non-conforming, but rest assured, it is a conforming club.
It has less sole grinds than the Vokey, but more than enough choices for most golfers. In fact, they have added a new grind since last year’s model.
Continuing with the somewhat over the top naming convention, each wedge has an extra “Nip-It” groove near the leading edge. This is supposed to help add spin on mishits low on the clubface. I’m not saying this is a bad idea, in fact it seemed to work quite well, but their marketing department can do better than that name!
You can check out more specs and the latest prices for the Callaway Mack Daddy 4 here.
I used a Cleveland wedge for years and really liked it. They tend to be a little chunkier and forgiving and overall better suited to players that don’t always hit the sweet spot.
Lofts: 46° / 48° / 50° / 52° / 54° / 56° / 58° / 60° / 62° / 64°
Head Options: 4 Different sole grinds (V-LG low bounce, V-MG mid bounce, V-FG forgiving full sole)
Finish Options: Tour Satin, Black Satin
Standard Shaft: True Temper Dynamic Gold
Cleveland has been a wedge specialist for many years. They have since expanded their arsenal to other types of clubs but wedges is still what they do best.
I prefered the RTX-3 over the more chunky CBX, but if you want a much more forgiving cavity back wedge, you can check out the prices and specs of the CBX here.
Even though it is Cleveland’s “players club” wedge, the RTX-3 is still the most forgiving wedge on this list. It just feels a little bigger and chunkier than the others above. But for players with higher handicaps, that is a good thing because it will help minimize off center hits.
As for other aspects of the club, the RTX-3 is just a solid all around performer. It has good spin numbers and has a decent feel.
I did find it to be a little less soft feeling than the Titleist Vokey or the Callaway Mack Daddy. But this may be a positive for some so definitely check it out if you need a quality wedge that has a little more of a forgiving head.
You can check out more specs and the latest prices for the Cleveland RTX-3 here.
What To Look For In A Wedge
The characteristics you want in a wedge are a little different than other irons. They are shorter, more precise tools than a 5 iron, for example. You use them for full swings and chips on a regular basis (and everything in between).
Here are a few of the most important things I look for when selecting a wedge.
With iron lofts in many sets getting stronger and stronger, you need to be able to fill those gaps with wedges.
Long gone are the days of going to the sporting goods store and getting an iron set with a “pitching wedge” and then finding a “sand wedge” to round out the set. You need to know the lofts on your clubs as well as the yardages that you hit each club if you want to maximize your scoring potential on the course.
In some iron sets, the loft of the PW can be as low as 44° or 45°. In this case, having a “sand wedge” that is 56° leaves you with a huge gap at what might be the most critical scoring distance. you need to be aware of this when selecting a wedge. The best brands and models will have a wide selection of lofts for you to choose from so that distance gaps are not a problem.
You probably want to stay away from the lofts more than 60° unless you’re a good player and have a specific need for that club. They are hard to hit consistently and have very limited usefulness.
Sole Grind Options
Sole grinds refers to the shape of the sole (or bottom) of the club.
You will also see the term “bounce” used often when describing the sole of a club. In simple terms, that refers to how flat the sole of the club is. More bounce on the bottom prevents the club from digging into the ground and less bounce allows you to get the sweet spot on the ball when the ground is hard and flat.
If you tend to hit more aggressively down on the ball and take large divots, then more bounce can help you and vice versa if you tend to pick the ball clean.
Ground conditions can also play a role in bounce selection. If you are playing on soft lush fairways then more bounce is good and less bounce can be helpful on hard dry ground. But most players play a variety of courses.
My suggestion is to have low bounce on your most lofted club (maybe a 60°) and more bounce on your second most lofted club. Alternatively, you can get two of each and make the decision about which one to play based on the course you’re playing that day.
Look and Feel
This one comes down to personal preference.
There’s not much I can say about this other than it is more important in wedges than irons and woods because you hit a lot of finesse shots with the wedge.
I prefer a smaller profile clubhead with the wedges because it seems to cut through the rough better (and I spend a lot of time there) and a softer feel because it seems to give me more control (even if it’s only mental).
But you need to make your own decisions about what you like or don’t like in a wedge. Hopefully the choices above can help guide your decision.